The Hulk Needs To Finally Unite With Marvel’s Best Team

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With Namor finally joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our writer argues that it’s time to unite the original Defenders!

By Michileen Martin
| Published

It’s time for Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to finally come together with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of the O.G. Defenders. With Tenoch Huerta‘s debut as Namor the Sub-Mariner in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we now canonically have Hulk, Namor, and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) active in the narrative at the same time. Kevin Feige needs to make it happen before that changes and, frankly, Kevin Feige owes us.

What do I mean? Well if the Defenders you’re more familiar with are the heroes of Marvel’s Netflix series, then you may not know that the original team was the power trio of Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor. The three first join forces in 1971’s Marvel Feature #1 and unite in two more issues of the comic before the team got its own title.

Marvel Feature #1, Marvel Comics 1971

Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor were soon joined on the Defenders by the Silver Surfer and fans of the comic would come to know them as the “Big Four” of the team; much like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are often called the “Big Three” of the Avengers. The first hero to join the crew from outside the Big Four was Valkyrie, and that’s what I mean when I say Kevin Feige owes us.

Remember 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok and the so-called “Revengers?” In a single movie we got Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Doctor Strange… and they didn’t share a single scene together. In the original run of the Defenders comic there’s a lot of turnover in the team, but along with Nighthawk; Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Valkyrie are three of the heroes you can most often find in the ranks. To have all three in a single MCU movie and never have them in the same room together is just kind of mean.

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The Revengers in a promotional image for Thor: Ragnarok

There’s still no Silver Surfer in the MCU and no Nighthawk, but Tenoch Huerta did a fantastic job bringing Namor to the MCU. Finally, the original three Defenders can unite in live-action on the big screen.

Another reason it needs to happen? Because DC already did it. That’s right–in spite of DC Comics having nothing to do with the Defenders, the DC Animated Universe had their own tribute to the O.G. Defenders with the 2003 Justice League episode “The Terror Beyond.”

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Aquaman, Doctor Fate, and Solomon Grundy in Justice League

“The Terror Beyond” has Aquaman, Doctor Fate, and Solomon Grundy form their own version of Doctor Strange, Namor, and the Hulk’s Defenders in a tribute to the classic team. Kevin Feige, if the “Distinguished Competition” can do it, how can you not?

Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting that Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor should make up their own Defenders superhero team on the big screen. When it comes to the MCU, these three don’t exactly share a lot of common interests. All I’m saying is that for one scene — for at least one scene — get them in a room together.

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Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor on the cover of Defenders #80, Marvel Comics 1980

Have one scene in a Marvel film or TV series with Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor–the OG Defenders–together and no other superheroes or villains around. They can be hanging out, sharing a lunch break in the middle of a fight with a variant Thanos, arguing about whether or not Eddie Munson is coming back as a vampire in Season 5 of Stranger Things as ScreenRant suggests; I don’t care. Just one scene.

Of course, if Kevin Feige did want to get a longer story out of these three than just a nod and a wink, I wouldn’t complain. Perhaps in one of the upcoming event films–Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars–if the heroes wind up getting once again split up into squads like they did in Endgame, an excuse could be found to put Hulk and the other two Defenders in their own group.

Just one scene, Kevin. You owe us. Strange, Hulk, and Valkyrie in the same movie? You could show the Executioner with a shake weight but not the Defenders? Dude.